College face tough opening tie
a schoolboy team before they move on, and then you have to start all over again, so it’s not easy to develop a team over time, but it’s just another challenge that a coach faces,” Strudwick said.
College tackle Port Elizabeth’s strong Grey High School line-up today at 3.30 pm. The red, black and white lost by one point to Grey at the Port Elizabeth school’s rugby festival last year, so the challenge to turn the tables is uppermost in the minds of the College team.
“Their coach is Rory Duncan, who I played with during our era, and Grey is a very similar THE Maritzburg College director of rugby and first XV head coach, Ryan Strudwick, is under no illusions as to the challenge that awaits his team during the FNB 150th Rugby Festival.
“It’s going to be tough,” Strudwick said yesterday, ahead of the team’s opening match at 3.30 pm today.
“We have only played one full game, but we are feeling confident, although not having played tough opposition we don’t know fully what to expect.
“But the rustiness will come out. The players are still getting to know each other and there have been some positional changes, which can be a problem, but we are getting better as we go along,” said the former Sharks forward.
Strudwick said College have the right stuff in first XV captain and head prefect Seko Buthelezi.
“Seko is the obvious choice … As head prefect, he commands much respect on and off the field and the players respect him while enjoying his company at the same time.”
In his second season as Maritzburg College first XV head coach, Strudwick has a distinguished track record.
The lock/loose forward captained London Irish in the English Premier League, played for the prestigious Barbarians XV, turned out for the Sharks, represented London Harlequins and had a season with Connaught in Ireland.
“Yes, in my youth,” chuckled the man who was schooled at Wartburg in the Midlands.
Strudwick had great success in coaching College Rovers to the National Club Championship title and said the frustration in coaching at age-group level was the aspect of building a side over a number of years.
“You only have a relatively short time with school to College so it should be a great contest,” said Strudwick.
Goldstones, so long a happy hunting ground for Maritzburg College and its theatre of dreams, is in splendid condition thanks to the hard work of Dave Veitch and his staff, but it will offer no escape for sides that are not on top of their game during the matches over the next five days.
The Maritzburg College 150th Rugby Festival has South African schoolboy rugby giants Afrikaans Hoër Seunskool (Affies), Hoërskool Monument (Monnas) of Krugersdorp, Grey (Port Elizabeth), Queens College ( Queenstown), Dale College (King Williamstown), Rondebosch Boys’ High (Cape Town), Hoërskool Noord-Kaap (Kimberley), Jeppe High of Johannesburg), Maritzburg College and the KZN Development XV.
The hosts play rising school powerhouse Hoërskool Noord-Kaap of Kimberley on Monday at 2.10 pm; before taking on old foes Queens College, on Wednesday at 2.20 pm.
“Noord-Kaap is a new one for us, but fortunately we will be able to see them play on Saturday and we will definitely be analysing them, taking notes on how they play,” said the College head coach.
“They have been producing great rugby players so it’s going to be an interesting game.” And what about Queens on Wednesday? “I think we will probably go into that game as the favourites, but every match is a new page and we must ensure we are ready for them.”
The coach said College had no standout players. “We are not a team of superstars, but we are well balanced and need to pull together to get the right results. We have got the character to do that.”
Before the Maritzburg College clash with Grey High School, there is the intriguing prospect of Noord-Kaap up against Johannesburg’s Jeppe High School for Boys, which kicks off the festival at 10.10 am. Next, the KZN Development XV take on Rondebosch at 11.30 am.
Next up today is the intriguing face-off between Queens and the traditionally powerful Affies line-up at 12.50 pm before Dale tackle Monnas in what should be a great game at 2.10 pm. The clash precedes the much-anticipated muscle-up between College and Grey High at 3.30 pm.
Maritzburg College first-team players Jacques Conradie and Vuyo Khathide will be looking for victory over Grey High School when the FNB 150th Rugby Festival gets under way today.
In an international rugby career spanning 11 seasons, A.D. ‘Butch’ James (1997) earned 42 caps for the Springboks. He played a key role in the final of the 2007 Rugby World Cup against England when his composure and ability to blunt the impact of his opposite number, Jonny Wilkinson, helped South Africa to a 15-6 win.
Having started his rugby refereeing career on College’s outer fields as an under-14 boy about two decades earlier, Craig Joubert (1995) earned the ultimate accolade in 2011 when he was appointed to referee the Rugby World Cup final between the All Blacks and France.